Category Archives: Heart Healthy Foods

Fresh fruit lovers may be reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 40%!

200472_10150133383738407_5646118_nIf you eat fresh fruit every day because you enjoy it, you may be doing something really important for your health without knowing it!

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Each year, 600,000 people die from heart disease and 130,000 die from stroke. But a new study finds that the risk of developing cardiovascular disease could be reduced by up to 40%, simply by eating fresh fruit every day.

The research team, led by Dr. Huaidong Du from the University of Oxford in the UK, recently presented their findings at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014.

The results of their study came from an analysis of 451,681 individuals from five rural and five urban areas of China who were a part of the China Kadoorie Biobank – a study set up to investigate genetic and environmental causes of chronic diseases.

Dr. Du notes that numerous studies have indicated that improvements in diet and lifestyle are critical to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But she points out that the majority of these studies have come from Western countries, with very few from China.

“China has a different pattern of CVD,” explains Dr. Du, “with stroke as the main cause compared to Western countries where ischemic heart disease is more prevalent. Previous studies have combined ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, probably due to the limited number of stroke cases in their datasets.”

She adds that given the difference in risk factors and physiology between ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, the team was particularly interested in how fruit consumption influenced the risk of these stroke subtypes.

The more fruit consumed each day, the lower the risk of CVD
Study participants had no history of CVD and were receiving no treatment for high blood pressure at baseline.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers asked the participants how much fresh fruit they ate. Fruit consumption was divided into five categories: never, monthly, 1-3 days a week, 4-6 days a week and daily.

During 7 years of follow-up, 19,300 participants developed heart disease and 19,689 had stroke, of which 14,688 were ischemic and 3,562 were hemorrhagic.

Dr. Du and her team found that participants who ate fruit every day had a 25-40% lower risk of CVD, compared with those who never ate fruit. In detail, those who ate fruit daily had a 15% lower risk of ischemic heart disease, a 25% lower risk of ischemic stroke and a 40% reduced risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Furthermore, the more fruit a person ate, the lower their risk of CVD. The average daily fruit intake was 1.5 portions (approximately 150 g).

In addition, the researchers found that participants who reported eating fruit daily had lower blood pressure at baseline, compared with those who reported never eating fruit. “We also found that the beneficial effect of fruit on the risk of CVD was independent of its impact on baseline blood pressure,” adds Dr. Du.

The team then carried out a separate analysis to see how fruit consumption affected all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in 61,000 patients who had high blood pressure or CVD at study baseline.

Overall, the researchers found that participants who ate fruit daily had a 32% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who never ate fruit, as well as a 40% lower risk of death from stroke and a 27% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease.

Commenting on their findings, the team says:
“Our results show the benefit of eating fruit in the healthy general population and in patients with CVD and hypertension. Fruit consumption is an effective way to cut CVD risk and should not only be regarded as ‘might be useful.’

Policies are needed to promote the availability, affordability and acceptability of fresh fruit through educational and regulatory measures.”

It does seem like no one really ever complains about eating fruit. Kids love fresh fruit — apples, bananas, pears, berries, melon — all are sweet and tasty. And for adults, seasonal varieties of fruit keep our diets interesting and flavorful. Remember the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Worthwhile advice. hopes we all take it!

Celebrate Valentine’s Day and National Heart Health Month!

Tomorrow as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, let’s all do our best to celebrate National Heart Health Month as well! February is the time we think about romance and flowers and, of course, our hearts. But it’s also National Heart Health Month, the time we should be thinking of taking the very best possible care of our hearts as well. So while you’re planning a special meal for your sweetheart tomorrow evening, please take good care to include the foods that will be kind to both your hearts!

It’s pretty easy to do and it can be quite delicious too.

To start your evening off, you might want to enjoy a glass of red wine together. Containing the flavanoids Catechins and reservatrol, red wine may help improve your levels of “good cholesterol.

You’ll also want to prepare a spinach salad, instead of traditional lettuce. Thanks to high levels of of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber, spinach is a heart-healthy choice. It also makes for a more interesting salad on a special evening.

Seafood is certainly thought of by many as a food of love. And salmon is the food of the heart. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay.

Have berries for dessert! Mix it up with blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. You’ll be sharing Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids), anthocyanin (a flavonoid), ellagic acid (a polyphenol), vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber with your soulmate. It’s a great way to say “I love you.”

Oh and don’t forget the dark chocolate for an extra boost of flavanoids and some added sweetness. It’s not just a flavorful indulgence, a little dark chocolate is really good for your heart.

Make this year’s holiday of the heart a special one, not only for romance, but for your health too. While adores the flowers and the food and the music and the expressions of love, we do think that taking care of our health is not only the best gift we can give ourselves, but our sweethearts as well!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Campbell’s Soup and the American Heart Association Accused of Misleading Consumers

Heart Check Certification is given to a variety of products by the American Heart Association as a consumer guide to “heart-healthy” foods. Products have to qualify to receive the certification, so the general assumption among consumers seeing that Heart Check certification is that the product bearing the symbol is better for you than one that doesn’t.

The AHA and Campbell’s soup are being sued for misleading consumers, stating that their “Healthy Request” line of soup products are not as healthy as the Heart Check symbol is leading people to believe. In order for these products to carry the Heart Check certification, Campbell’s had to pay a fee to the AHA and meet specific nutritional criteria. The products must contain 480 milligrams of sodium or less per serving (as well as other cut off levels for saturated and trans fat, cholesterol and other nutrient criteria deemed by the AHA).

Campbell’s “Healthy Request” soups meet these criteria. Those filing the lawsuit however, claim that the AHA’s sodium cut-off is not consistent with its recommendations to limit daily sodium intake.

A single serving of Campbell’s “Healthy Request” condensed chicken noodle soup for example has 410 milligrams of sodium. That’s obviously within the AHA criteria, so what’s the problem?

The serving size.

There are actually 2.5 servings of the soup in each can. One can contains over 1,000 mg. of sodium which is over two-thirds of the 1500 milligrams the AHA recommends for daily sodium intake.

The class action lawsuit is acknowledging the fact that the typical consumer isn’t going to eat a half can of soup for lunch. They’re more likely to consume the entire can. Campbell’s and the AHA can argue that the serving size doesn’t contain the maximum of 480 mg of sodium, but consumers are ingesting much more than that whenever they eat the entire product. And that’s what makes the certification misleading. The lawsuit seeks to change the soup-can labeling and compensate those who bought the soup under false pretenses.
“This is not a food-police kind of lawsuit,” Levitt said. “The issue here is about whether a major, major food company in the United States, as well as a leading heart health organization, can lie to the American public.”

In a videotaped response, the chief science officer for the American Heart Association said the organization will fight the lawsuit. “The claim in the lawsuit is inaccurate and false and it’s not even plausible,” said Dr. Rose Marie Robertson. “Our ‘Heart Check’ mark helps consumers make smarter choices about the foods they eat. It is not deceptive or misleading.”

The AHA’s Science Officer also said the “Heart Check” criteria and AHA’s general nutritional guidance are both available to the public. In a written statement, the organization emphasizes it recommends an average of 1500 mg of sodium or less per day. And not all foods must be low sodium to fit in a heart healthy diet. weighs in on this subject from a very definite viewpoint. We certainly think that it’s possible that many manufacturers are aware that their products are not being consumed according to the serving sizes listed on the packaging. That’s how some nutrition labels can read 0 in the Trans Fat column, even though they contain partially hydrogenated oils. And how some soups can qualify as “lower sodium” or “heart healthy” when they really aren’t. Half a cup of soup for lunch can make for one hungry human by three o’clock in the afternoon. And we’re really doubtful someone is saving the rest of the can for the next day.

We’re not sure what will happen with this class action suit. The AHA clearly states its requirements and recommendations (and these products are within those guidelines.) Campbell’s clearly states on its label that one serving (which contains 410 mg. of sodium) is half a cup. Both AHA requirements and Campbell’s labeling may, in fact, be misleading – but they aren’t lying. They’re using some tried and true sales techniques that get consumers to think something about a product that isn’t exactly a lie – and isn’t exactly the truth either. You very well could consume only 410 mg. of sodium – but you may easily consume more.

Should that kind of labeling be legal? Is it misleading? Does it deserve Heart Check Certification? thinks that there are better questions to ask like “What do certifications like Heart Check actually mean for consumers and should we trust our health to symbols that may or may not mean what we perceive?”